May 30th, 2008
04:32 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama takes heat from Catholic League over Pfleger

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Pfleger has apologized for his comments."](CNN) - The Catholic League sharply criticized Barack Obama Friday for his ties to controversial Catholic minister Michael Pfleger, saying in a statement the Illinois senator should have severed ties with him long ago.

The criticisms come after wide circulation on the Internet of Pfleger's recent sermon, in which he mocked Hillary Clinton for becoming teary-eyed before the New Hampshire primary in January.

"And then, out of nowhere, came 'Hey, I'm Barack Obama,'" Pfleger said during a sermon Sunday at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. "And [Clinton] said, 'Oh damn, where did you come from? I'm white! I'm entitled! There's a black man stealing my show!' "

Barack Obama said Thursday he was "disappointed" in the comments, and Pfleger later issued an apology for the remarks.

"Why is it that of all the wonderful Catholic priests in the Chicago Archdiocese, Obama long ago chose Pfleger to hang with?" Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a statement. "Truth be known, Pfleger has a very troubling history."

“Senator Obama says he wants to bring people together. Then why does he choose as his clerical friends people like Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Father Pfleger?" Donohue also said. "They are two peas in a pod, both equally divisive, separated only by the color of their skin.”

The Catholic League is an influential non-partisan organization that says its mission is to protect the free-speech rights of Catholics "whenever and wherever they are threatened." The League was an early critic of the Rev. John Hagee, the controversial evangelical pastor whose endorsement was sought by John McCain but later repudiated.

Pfleger is a priest at St. Sabina's Catholic Church on the south side of Chicago. He had served on the Catholics for Obama committee until recently and the two have known each other for 20 years. As a state senator, Obama once directed a $100,000 grant to a community center affiliated with Pfleger's church.

Watch Pfleger's controversial comments here.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (621 Responses)
  1. TunnelVision

    Maybe Obama needs to request that whenever there's a church service a disclaimer be issued stating that the views expressed in this sermon are not necessarily those of Sen. Barack Obama.
    Why is this even in the news?

    Obama 08

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  2. D.

    The Obamas are going to have to find a new church home. This church has too much drama.
    They need to find a church under Watch Care who prays for them and a place they can go fellowship.
    This is too much- too frquently.

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  3. Mike

    Why does Obama continue to be criticized for the actions of others?

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. NBC

    OK.....why aren't there hardly any African American priests in the USA, why aren't black nuns in the Catholic Church in USA? Ever since Catholics have come to this nation they have sided with non catholic ways in America even during slavery. You haven't changed much. Put a sock in it bigots.

    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |



    May 30, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  6. Jim

    Remember Obama supports this church, is a member of this church. The church members were cheering this pastor on just like the were cheering on Wright.

    Wake up people, Obama is NOT what you think he is. He i a fraud, a liar and far more dangerous to this country then even Bush.

    Hillary or McCain

    May 30, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. history repeats

    i could care less about what the catholic league said about obama. this organizations show there true colors when they connect the dots from someone who made comments to someone who had nothing to do with the comments!!!! people who listen to this league's opinion and base there choices on it shouldnt be alowed to vote, but luckily for them we live in a country where you can decide to do whatever you like. including say whatever you want to whomever you want!@

    May 30, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |

    Why is this news!!! Obama is a christian and does not attend this pastor's church. Up until a few weeks ago he was just a volunteer for the campaign. How many Hillary supporters say horrible things about Obama everyday and Hillary doesn't reject them. Ms Farrero is running around trying to make sure Hillary's supporters don't go for Obama using sexism and racism and I don't see Hillary telling her to shut up.

    May 30, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  9. Marie-Lynn

    Oh please stop your hypocrit comments...

    May 30, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. becky

    I appears to me that it is not Obama who needs help, it is the churches.

    The ministers, Fathers, etc. need to stop playing politics in their churches. Do they not know the first rule.. do not mix religion and politics together, it only creates problems.

    I thought their job is to teach people about God and the Bible.

    Maybe this is why I have not yet found a church I want to participate in.

    PLEASE do not drive this far, I am so sick of hearing about this crap. The Media dropped Hillary's and McCains in 2 days, Please do the same with this one.

    May 30, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Photon Torpedo Dallas, TX

    Ohhhhh way to go Catholic League. You wanted an excuse... ANY excuse to blame Senator Obama and throw your continued support behind somebody who could very well lose the nomination or in November. Honestly speaking you guys are still reeling from the effects of some of your priests who didn't do a @#$% thing about the abuse young boys now men had suffered. Where were you from the onset of these crimes back when the media didn't know about them?

    So I guess I could ask you... why didn't you sever ties to a multitude of your churches leaders!

    Stop finding excuses just flat out say you don't support Senator Obama. It may be the only truthful thing you've done over the past 20 years.

    Yes We Can & Yes We Should
    Obama 08'

    May 30, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |


    May 30, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. YouareagoodmanMcclellan

    So what Mr. Michael Pfleger Catholic Church minister . Bill Donohue
    in competion with Mr. Pfleger, all he is trying to do is make him self look good, he does not care about anything if he does he would of said some thing with all the sins the his church minister have been doing with young boys.

    May 30, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Fella from Chicago

    There's nothing more to comment on. Obama's been part of this race hating rhetoric of Wright and Pfleger for 20 years. This is the man who is the messenger of hope and change according to some Americans. Pity America and God help us.

    May 30, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. andrew

    Come on CNN. Do your homework . . .

    "Pastor, you are my friend from this point forward and nothing's going to change that", said the Catholic League President (Donohue) to John Hagee.

    I don't think Donohue is one to talk.

    May 30, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  16. Bij- New York

    Who care? Who really cares? I mean what does Barack need to do...disown the whole world? these people should have sat down pfleger long ago if he was so "troubling" my pastor would say "fiddlesticks!"

    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. Pete

    Oh good Lord. Can we give the "crazy priest" stories a rest?

    That crap doesn't help inflation or get us out of Iraq. It just reinforces what most of us think about organized religion.

    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Carol from MI


    Here we go again.

    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. Stephina

    I am Catholic and I can't beleive that this man is a Priest. His conduct is horrible and he is a disgrace to all Catholics. He should be removed from the Catholic Priesthood.

    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. steve

    Well i thought Obama's pastor problems were over, and were a little exagerated to begin with.....but it seems he just can't miss those Hillary bashing sermons! I think this pastor, being #2, should start to get people talking. notice that not one story about a pastor problem has plagued Hillary, but a total of 3 have struck McCain and Obama.

    All you Obama fans, Forget about Rvd. Wright.....have fun trying to deal with crazy pastor #2.

    On side not: I am disappointed as a fellow catholic to see these kinds of words being used by a minister.


    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. Elizabeth in Illinois

    Wait a minute..... if Pfleger is *that* bad, why is he still a priest???? Suddenly it's somehow Barack Obama's fault that he's a loose cannon?!?

    Hello, people. Obama is not a Catholic. Who is *really* "hanging with" Pfleger? Sounds like the CATHOLIC LEAGUE, to me!

    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Ben

    And the spin begins, Everything lies on Obama back....

    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. sophia nyc

    Gas prices are high, let's blame Obama.

    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  24. Joe Reed

    They need to sharply criticize McNoBrain as well. Besides, it was not Obama who said it. Non-Story...yawn.

    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  25. Bob b

    Interesting how Obama is guided by this filth for 20 years and the moment he runs for president repents of his evil ways. are disgusting.

    May 30, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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